ASHBOURNE has been picked out as one of the top 10 places for a weekend retreat in the UK.
Property experts at The Times newspaper listed their top 30 locations for escaping the rat-race – and Ashbourne was listed at number 10.
The entry in the four-page feature describes Ashbourne as a having a cobbled street market and 'quirky' shops.
It reads: "You've got the hills and valleys, gorges and wild moorland of the Derbyshire Dales on your door step, so it's great for people who love the outdoors.
"It's close to Alton Towers, there are lots of pubs, a cobbled street market and quirky shops.
"The Tissington Trail is popular with cyclists and walkers."
Ashbourne property expert Paul Barnett, property sales manager at Bagshaws, in Church Street, says the town has recently seen a growth in people visiting the area to snap up a second home.
He said buyers see the Ashbourne area as an ideal rural getaway. Mr Barnett said: "I would say, certainly of late, a lot of holiday cottages have started selling again so it would suggest that more people are looking to the area as somewhere for a second home.
"I think a lot of people have started doing this as the money they spend is usually made up of their savings and it doesn't do much for them in the bank at the moment so it's better for them to sink it into a small property.
"It's the Peak District that's the pull and Ashbourne is well set up for that. We've noticed a growth in the sales of cottages below the £300,000 mark recently."
Mr Barnett says it appears this growth has been most noticeable from people travelling up from the south of the country, where the markets have been recovering since the end of the recession ended last year.
He said: "We do get some people in from the Midlands and so on but I would suggest they're mainly coming in from the bustling cities and especially those in the south, where the market has really been picking up."
Sue Prince, who runs Beechenhill Farm, an award-winning bed and breakfast in Ilam, said: “Ashbourne is a pretty and well-kept town where you can get just about everything.
“There are some really nice places to eat, which is important, but it’s a charming and quirky little town where the businesses are keeping hold of traditional values but, at the same time, not falling behind the times. And that’s the sort of thing people are looking for.”
Down the road at Rivendale, a holiday park off the A515 at Alsop-en-le-Dale, staff estimate at least three-quarters of their customers will make a bee-line for Ashbourne while visiting the area. Assistant warden Kim Carroll said: “I think it’s just a lovely area. It’s perfect for most people to visit, especially if you like walking or cycling.”
And the publicans of the area are also in agreement that Ashbourne is the perfect place for a getaway.
Dave Leigh, owner of the Smith’s Tavern in St John Street said: “It really is the gateway to the Peak District and within minutes I could be in one of the most beautiful parts of the country.
“It’s a pleasure to live and work here.”
Topping the list in the Times feature was the Suffolk village of Walberswick, said to be a sleepy coastal village with galleries, tea rooms and a ferry in the summer.
Also in the top 30 was the seaside town of Deal, in Kent, Alnwick in Northumberland and Goathland in Yorkshire.
The top 30 for a weekend retreat, according to The Times, are:
1 Walberswick, Suffolk.
2 Bibury, Gloucestershire
3 Topsham, Devon
4 Sandsend, Yorkshire
5 Tenby, Pembrokeshire
6 Burford, Oxfordshire
7 Tattershall, Lincolnshire
8 Greywell, Hampshire
9 Robin Hood's Bay, Yorkshire
10 Ashbourne, Derbyshire
11 Moray Coast, Scotland
12 Aldeburgh, Suffolk
13 Cartmel, Cumbria
14 Beaulieu, Hampshire
15 Petworth, West Sussex
16 Lustleigh, Devon
17 Deal, Kent
18 Tillingham, Essex
19 Isle of Arran, Scotland
20 Kingsbridge, Devon
21 Broadstairs, Kent
22 Alnwick, Northumberland
23 Lymington, Hampshire
24 Laugharne, West Wales
25 Sennen Cove, Cornwall
26 Harpenden, Hertfordshire
27 Chew Magna, Somerset
28 Cowes, Isle of Wight
29 Loddon, Norfolk
30 Goathland, Yorkshire